After battling colon cancer for the past 6 months, my friend, Aloja, passed away last Saturday, December 14, 2013.
It was a shock. We all knew she was hospitalized late July, had an operation early August for the extraction of rectal polyps. We thought that had been the end of it all. We thought that the culprit had been out of her system and will harm her no more.
I had known her since high school. She is tall, slim, has long, black and kinky hair. Even without looking, you would know that it’s her just by hearing her crisp laughter. She loves joking around and about people and always finds something funny about everything.
She was an orphan. The principal of their barangay school took care of her since she was a baby. Fed her. Clothed her and sent her to school. We barely talk about her family. I barely talk to her during free time because I would either be busy with academics or extra-curricular activities. But since our school was just a small one, we get to see each other every day. She was also my tita’s favorite student because of her life story, her being responsible and happy disposition. After high school, our only connection were only through friends and then came facebook which had been our constant way of communicating and updating about each other.
After graduating college, she moved to Manila, got a job and searched for her parents. She was able to locate her dad who already has his own family and her mom who lives abroad. That all happened a couple of years ago. She visits her dad’s family every now and then and communicates with her mom via facebook and international calls . Mission accomplished.
She had also found love while working here in Manila. They had always been one of my favorite couples on facebook, for I saw her complete transformation from being boyish to being that sophisticated lady who loves make ups, pumps and dresses and now had long, straight hair. I would always tease her about that whenever we get to chat.
When she moved to Manila, her lifestyle also changed. She now has to work and pay rent. Since her salary is not that much and she now has a lifestyle to maintain, her main priorities had changed. She also prefers sodas and softdrinks over water, and instant food over home-cooked meals. No more vegetables. As early as 2011, she had been complaining of seeing blood in her poop but never bothered to consult a doctor and continued with daily living until this year, she had to be confined and an operation had to be done.
She celebrated her 28th birthday last December 10, rushed to the hospital last December 11, with so much convicing needed which included taking her photo in a very pitiful state—very thin and dry skin, sunken and depressed face, bloated tummy, her mom flew from Kuwait to see for the first and last time in her life. Finally last Saturday, December 14, 2013. She had given up fighting for her life. I guess maybe because she had fulfilled her dream of meeting her biological family.
When I visited her wake, her mom can’t still believe what happened to her daughter. She had made plans but now those are all worthless. She had been looking forward to reconnecting with her in the next years.
I had been carrying this sadness me eversince I’ve heard of this news. Admittedly, I had failed to function properly the past few weeks because of the depression this had caused me. I had no energy to ask family and friends to help me in the Christmas Party of my kids, I didn’t do Christmas shopping like I used to, I just didn’t have the energy to be merry. Since the arrival of my cousins, I had been trying to savour every happy moment and just have fun but there are still moments that I just wanted to be alone and be silent.
Then today, the 25th of December, one of my friends and former colleague passed away. He had been in and out of the hospital since November, the last news I’ve heard is that he had his HMO card maxed out for this year and had been relying on personal funds and help from relatives and friends to continue his medication. He died of pneumonia. I remember he was diagnosed with TB and took a six-month Leave of Absence.
Who would have thought they would die so soon. They both were happy-go-lucky and have jolly personalities. Whenever they are around, we will be filled with good vibes and laughter.
A couple of things I’ve learned about their passing. One, as early as now, we should be aware of what we eat, our lifestyle and just totally how we live our lives. Eat healthy. Live healthy. Second, we should always get the best out of life. I don’t know if they had lived that life, but for Aloja, at least I know that she accomplished one of her missions, finding her parents. As for Jason, he had lived his life as what he would always say, “Wala akong pakialam sa kung anong sasabihin nila, basta ako, iinom at magpapakasaya!” As to how to get the best out of life, I don’t know how, that is something I am still trying to find out for myself.
Farewell Aloja and Jason, I know you are both in a better place. Free from pain. Free from suffering. Cheers!